Posted 9 October 2013 by Andrew Gardner
Every year I'm blown away by the autumn colours - and I'm talking not about the new season's fashion collections, but about trees. At this time of year trees do it for me every time. Every shade of red, russet, orange, yellow, gold... just look at our magnificent Sussex views for inspiration and pure pleasure.
Sussex may be famous for its open downland but it also has a lot of beautiful woodland, some of it ancient and historic. We can only hope that acute oak decline doesn't take too high a toll, as oak in particular is very much a part of Sussex heritage - there is a species called Sussex oak, hence all the pubs named for it.
In the High Weald the Ashdown Forest, for a start, was planted for hunting back in Norman times while in the Low Weald over near Petworth, the Idehurst Oak on what is now The Mens nature reserve is centuries old - as evidenced by its six-metre girth. Ancient oak, ash and beech trees tower over us at Harting Down in West Sussex and about half of Ebernoe Common is ancient beech woodland, a wonderful habitat for many creatures including several bat species. These are all places you can visit for a bracing walk or a gentle stroll, whichever takes your fancy, and we have cosy holiday cottages conveniently placed for all of them.
More formally, several Sussex gardens offer fabulous treescapes at this time of year. The undulating Petworth Park, designed by Capability Brown, is one of them and a personal favourite is Standen, near East Grinstead in the Sussex High Weald, which was at the heart of the Arts & Craft movement. The most famous garden for autumn viewing, however, must be Sheffield Park Garden with it superlative palette of colours - and it's also handy for a trip on the Bluebell Railway. And if it's ancient woodland itself rather than the colours that interest you, I recommend Kingley Vale, near Chichester, which has one of Europe's finest and oldest yew forests. These Sussex beauty spots are all within easy reach of many of our delightful holiday cottages and luxury properties and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.